How much should a Restaurant website cost?

Date: 12-01-2012

As a marketer, I’m often asked ‟How much should I pay for my website?”

In the 1990s my corporate website cost over $80,000! Admittedly it was for a large company, but in those days the internet was relatively new. Design was paramount. Flash, rotating images, pop up windows. Websites were to ‟entertain” and convince customers to buy. In those days, 100% of our visits came from PCs. The only technical limitation was that it had to be both Macintosh and Microsoft compatible. Google wasn’t launched until 1998, so the concept of Search Engine Optimization wasn’t even invented. Easy!

In the 1990s the only people who could design websites were agencies. Options were limited.

Fast forward to 2012 – how things have changed! Ask me the same question ‟How much should a Restaurant website cost?” and I’ll ask you the following:

  1. What is your website’s objective? Does it need tricky functionality or is it a landing place for customers to know what cuisine you serve, and basic information?
  2. What sort of devices are your customers likely to be using? PCs? iPhones? Android phones? Your website must be compatible for all platforms.
  3. Will the website have Search Engine Optimization? If it’s all flash and images, then unlikely. Google is deaf & blind. SEO doesn’t like websites only containing images and sounds. It ranks those sites lowly. SEO LOVES words.
  4. Can you integrate future marketing activities without paying extra? If your customers are using email, Twitter and Facebook, then you should have the option too. At no extra cost.

As a marketer, my advice when asked about technology-based products or services is – ‟What are the ongoing costs?” and ‟How long before this technology is considered ‘old’ and unfriendly?”.

A recent shift in technology has been toward a low upfront cost, and pay-as-you go models. We’re following the American way. Two major benefits address the above concerns:

  1. Low upfront cost ensures you haven’t put all your marketing eggs in one basket. Restaurant websites don’t need tricky functionality. Your customers want basic information (opening hours, menus, photos of your food, reviews, contact details) – they don’t want Flash or PDF downloadable menus. In fact most smartphone users can’t be bothered to download PDFs (wastes memory), and flash doesn’t work well on Apple products.
  2. A pay-as-you-go model incentivises the supplier to keep up with latest technology. If it doesn’t work and they don’t fix it, don’t pay them! Simple!

When I first met James I was a little skeptical. Would this low upfront cost model mean that the customer would get an inferior product? Looking under the ‘hood’ so to speak – I think at $495 set up + monthly hosting , Marketing4Restaurants is too cheap!

Online marketing is a MUST DO for cost-effective restaurant marketing. We had one client sign up recently who was paying a web designer $700 a month to maintain his website and send emails! How many new customers would that restaurant have to attract just to pay their website bills? Answer: Too many!

Looking at one of our client’s web statistics this month:

  • 60% of his website visitors didn’t have PDF software. This means that had he posted a PDF food menu, more than half of visitors wouldn’t have been able to read it.
  • 44% of his visitors didn’t have Flash installed
  • 24% of his web visitors used mobile phones to access his website. 18% used iPhones

These are the sort of analytics Marketing4Restaurants provide free of charge. This means that a client can see what sort of business he would have missed out on had he relied purely on website design.

If anything, I am convinced Marketing4Restaurant customers get superior service, as in addition to professional design, a large focus is to ensure latest technology trends are addressed. In 2012, the big shift in marketing is toward great customer experience, and communicating to customers in the way they want!

If your website can’t be accessed quickly, and readable from whatever device the customer is using, then your marketing dollars have been wasted. If you can’t Tweet, post, or email at no additional cost, then you risk not keeping up with your competition.

So ‟How much should a restaurant website cost?”. Answer: as little as you can pay upfront for a design you’re happy with, and as little as you can pay ongoing without being held ransom for every single little update or the latest technology upgrade.

The website is your businesses ‟face in the internet world”, but behind the design you need to have a well functioning engine. Think of your website like your dining room, and the technology is your kitchen. A badly operated kitchen makes the dining room seem hardly relevant.

Happy marketing in 2012! – Karina

Other articles you might like:
‟Be my Friend on Facebook” – Why Facebook alone is not a sufficient strategy.
Download our ‟Top 10 mistakes for Restaurant Websites”

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